Dig a hole and put in the plant roots? To ensure plants establish quickly, grow properly and live a long time, you need to take a little more trouble than that.
Most plants that you buy from your gardening retailer are grown in high organic potting compost not soil. To match these conditions, your planting hole needs to be enriched with more organic matter to encourage the roots to spread out into the soil.
Autumn is the best time for planting all permanent hardy plants especially those that are bare rooted and are not sold to you growing in a pot. Plants can still be planted in winter, as long as the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen solid.
Pot grown plants can be planted any time of year, but autumn and spring give best results.
Planting a pot grown plant
- Water the plant thoroughly before you start. The root ball must be thoroughly wet before you start.
- Dig a hole that is at least 10cm (4in) wider and deeper than the pot the plant is growing in. Dig over the bottom of the hole to loosen the soil.
- Enrich the soil you have dug out with equal quantities of well-rotted garden compost or Organic Blend Soil Conditioner. This is your planting mixture. A handful of All Purpose Continuous Release Plant Food added at this stage will provide a steady source of plant nutrients that will feed your plant for the first season of growth.
- Place a 5cm (2in) layer of the planting mixture in the bottom of the planting hole.
- Remove the plant carefully from its pot and if possible gently tease some of the roots away from the edges, so they will naturally spread into the planting mixture.
- Place the root ball in the planting hole and gradually fill in the space around the root ball with more planting mixture, pressing down gently as you go.
- Tread down gently around the plant to ensure firm planting and water in well.
Planting a bare root plant
- Follow the principles above but make your planting hole wider and shallower so that the roots will fit in easily.
- Dunk the plant roots in water for at least an hour before planting.
- Position the plant in the hole so that the soil level will be the same height on the stem as when it was growing in the nursery.
- Gradually work the planting mixture between the roots, pushing the material down with your fists to fill in firmly between the roots.
- Fill the planting hole and tread the material down with your heel. Loosen the surface and water well.
Planting bedding plants or vegetable seedlings
- Dig the whole area incorporating well-rotted garden compost or Orgnaic Blend Soil Condidioner into the top 15cm (6in) of soil.
- Dress the soil with a suitable controlled release plant food such as All Purpose Continuous Release Plant Food.
- Dig individual planting holes and fill with a planting mixture made up of soil mixed with equal quantities of well-rotted garden compost or other organic matter.
- Leave a slight indentation around the plant so that extra water remains in the basin and goes down to the plant roots.
Planting acid loving plants
- Check the acid/alkaline balance of your soil with a simple pH Test Kit. If the results show your soil is naturally acid or neutral go ahead and plant rhododendrons, azaleas, camellia and the like as detailed above in ‘Planting a pot grown plant’. In neutral soils they will benefit from special feeding with special plant food for acid-loving plants such as Azlea, Camellia & Rhododendron Continuous Release Plant Food.
- If the soil test shows your soil is alkaline then plant in a pot of Ericaceous Compost or Azalea Camellia & Rhododendron Ericaceous Compost and feed with an ericaceous plant food throughout the summer.